Monday, July 18, 2011

Shine on, you crazy Diamond

Interesting choice made Sunday by the Twins, although that choice may have been dictated by circumstances and timing:

Scott Diamond has
a 4-8, 4.70 record in
17 starts for Rochester,
but has decent
walk and strikeout
They had indicated that they would bring up a pitcher from Triple A Rochester for today's doubleheader. Scott Baker was to start the afternoon game and Anthony Swarzak the evening tilt; the idea was to add an arm for the bullpen. The immediate thought here was that Chuck James would be the choice, but there was a hint that the Twins wanted a stretched-out arm for long relief purposes, and James doesn't really fit that description.

But then Baker reported, apparently during the game Sunday, that he didn't think his elbow was ready. Remember, he missed his scheduled start exactly a week earlier. So the Twins put him on the disabled list (backdated as far as allowed), and brought up two pitchers, Scott Diamond and James.

So now it's Swarzak this afternoon, Diamond tonight, and if there's a short start they'll have to cobble things together with James, Phil Dumatrait and the rest.

They didn't call up Kyle Gibson, who was scheduled to start Sunday evening in Rochester. It would seem possible to have done that; the decision to sideline Baker probably came before the Triple-A game began. (Gibson got pounded for nine runs in four innings.) Kevin Slowey, still on rehab in Rochester, started Friday and wasn't a consideration.

The Twins went with the lefty Diamond instead, and here's a possible reason why: Cleveland's power dries up against southpaws. For the season, the Tribe is hitting .250/.321/.406 against right-handed pitchers, .253/.321/.367 against left-handers. Same batting averages, identical on-base percentages, and a big drop in slugging percentage.

If they wanted a long man for the Cleveland series, Diamond may have been the original intention, and it may be that it is James who got the call because of Baker's belated decision.

Gibson is clearly the better prospect, and if the Twins needed a multi-start rotation fix, he or Slowey would be superior choices to Diamond. But for this spot start, the numbers break in Diamond's favor.

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